Mets add A's Clippard to bolster back end of 'pen
Oakland closer gives Collins another option; New York still pursuing outfield help
NEW YORK -- Their search for an outfielder not yet fruitful, the Mets found a different way to upgrade their roster four days out from the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The Mets acquired A's closer Tyler Clippard and cash on Monday in exchange for pitching prospect Casey Meisner, giving manager Terry Collins another established arm to team with Jeurys Familia, Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia at the back of his bullpen.
Clippard, 30, owns a 2.79 ERA in 37 appearances for Oakland. The two-time All-Star has posted a 2.65 career ERA in seven seasons since becoming a reliever, saving 32 games as Washington's closer in 2012 and another 17 this season for the A's. Clippard's peripheral numbers have fallen off this season -- with a career-high walk rate and a career-low strikeout rate, not counting his two years as a starter. But he still represents an upgrade over several inconsistent members of New York's bullpen.
With the Mets, Clippard figures to slot behind Familia as one of the team's primary setup men. Given his reverse platoon splits, he should also ease pressure against the types of left-handed sluggers that have haunted the Mets since Jerry Blevins hit the disabled list. Clippard should give the club a measure of security if Familia, who has blown each of his past two save attempts, continues to falter. And if the Mets make the playoffs, Clippard will give them depth to cover for Mejia, who is ineligible to participate due to his performance-enhancing drug suspension.
Combined with the club's recent acquisitions of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, and their promotion of outfield prospect Michael Conforto, the move gives the Mets four new players in the span of five days. And they aren't necessarily done; a team official said Monday that the club's pursuit of Clippard has had no impact on its search for an outfielder.
The Mets have been linked to plenty of them in recent weeks, from Cincinnati's Jay Bruce -- the Mets scouted him heavily over the weekend -- to Milwaukee's Gerardo Parra and San Diego's Will Venable. Newsday reported last week that the Mets were closing in on Parra before the deal fell apart, prompting them to promote Conforto from Double-A Binghamton.
Deals for players of that stature remain more likely than a superstar-caliber acquisition of Padres outfielder Justin Upton or Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Asked Saturday if he was working on any additional "big" moves, general manager Sandy Alderson replied: "What I consider big, yeah."
New York received an immediate boost from its first Deadline deal last week, acquiring Johnson and Uribe from the Braves for two Minor League pitchers. Johnson hit an upper-deck home run in his first game for the Mets, and Uribe came off the bench the next day to hit a walk-off single against the Dodgers.
Johnson, Uribe and Clippard will all be free agents after this season. They will add about $5 million to the team's payroll in August and September, minus the cash New York received back from the Braves and A's.
Meisner, 20, was the Mets' 15th-ranked prospect and their third-round Draft pick in 2014. A 6-foot-7 right-handed starter, he went 10-4 with a 2.35 ERA over two levels of Class A ball this season, topping out at Class A Advanced St. Lucie. Meisner is the highest-ranked prospect the Mets have traded under Alderson's regime.